June 19, 2020
PROVIDENCE, RI— Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan joined Providence Public Safety Officials today to announce a collaboration across City Departments to crack down on local prohibited firework use and sales. The City will now require all firework vendors to hold a firework sales permit. Vendors must submit a separate application for each location where fireworks will be sold. Each permit will cost $50 and is valid for one year.
“The health and well-being of our residents is our top priority,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “We encourage residents to please be mindful of their neighbors’ safety and to not use dangerous fireworks or explosives, particularly in our densely-packed neighborhoods.”
Under Rhode Island law, only ground and hand-held sparkling devices (“sparklers”) are legal for use by the general public. Any firecrackers, rockets, mortars, or any other device that launches a projectile and/or makes a “bang” are illegal. Studies have shown the dangers of unpermitted use of these fireworks. U.S. hospitals saw 12,900 firework-related injuries in 2017 alone and yearly about 19,500 fires are started by fireworks.
“Every neighborhood in our City has been plagued by the illegal use of fireworks, and that’s partly because many residents don’t realize that the only legal firework in Rhode Island is sparklers,” stated City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan. “For the past several weeks I have heard from constituents and colleagues about the large scale use of fireworks in our community. The fact is, neighbors don’t want to call the police on each other, but those who would have a total disregard for their neighbors need to understand the impacts their behavior is having on the community. A week ago, I immediately began to investigate what I could do as a City Councilor to protect the quality of life of my neighbors. Working together with Mayor Elorza and his staff we realized that we needed to have a holistic approach to this very serious quality of life issue.”
Majority Leader Ryan continued, “I convened members of my staff, members from the Mayor’s staff, Commissioner Steven Paré and Chief Hugh Clements and their teams to discuss a coordinated outreach effort. What became apparent was the need to educate our residents about the laws surrounding fireworks, and the negative impacts they have on our community members. All too often, we forget that fireworks can have an adverse effect on many of our neighbors – from the elderly to families with small children, to veterans and others suffering from PTSD, and is harmful to companion animals. Along with the education of our residents, we also must focus our efforts on regulating the illegal sale of fireworks in our city. In addition to this meeting, last night I also introduced a resolution requesting that the City Council, the Chief of Police, the City’s Fire Marshall, and the Director of the Board of Licenses coordinate our efforts to better mitigate the discharge of illegal fireworks with the City. With this plan in place, I believe we can mitigate this issue in a coordinated and calculated manner.”
To file a complaint or report the use of illegal fireworks, residents are encouraged to please contact the Providence Police Department non-emergency line (401) 272-3121 or to use the Online Police Reporting System. Please DO NOT call 9-1-1 to report fireworks.
Over the next few weeks, the Providence City Council will work with Mayor Elorza’s Administration, the Providence Police Department, the Providence Fire Department, and community members to remind residents to practice safe celebrations and to remember to keep neighbors in mind who may be sensitive to noise, especially at night.
“We are still in the midst of a pandemic and I understand and support that residents would like to find ways to safely celebrate within our neighborhoods,” said Commissioner of Public Safety Steven M. Paré. “I ask residents to please consider their neighbors, some of whom may be first responders working long hours to protect our community, and refrain from engaging in activities that could put anyone unnecessarily in harm’s way.”